The story flashes forward and back as Selina prepares for another job. She’s still dealing with the fallout from events of the last two arcs that include slighting the Penguin, caring for her comatose sister and the political nightmare family, the Creels.
If that sounds like a lot to process, it will also feel like that when reading this issue. I liked Joelle Jones on art and story when this series opened, and it felt like there was more direction and ideas floating around. Paired with another artist, one of the two is left lacking.
That’s not to say Jones isn’t a good writer or is out of ideas. This just feels a bit transitional and shoots for impact that didn’t quite hit its mark. Her character work for the supporting cast is engaging and endearing. She also has a firm grasp on Selina, she comes across well realized and more than just the thief with a heart of gold.
It just doesn’t feel like the balance is right with everything played out. The Penguin segment seems to go on for just that bit too long, and the cutaways to the Creel family feel like they’re dropped in at the wrong time.
But the things that do work, they work very well. Jones sets up a good heist. Her ability to place you right in the crowd of the auction has you legitimately anticipating what’s in store. Her connections between characters are written with a real palpability too. Even without the art you instantly feel there is a connection between Selina and James and that trouble is afoot.
Speaking of the art, Fernando Blanco, who was great on Manhunter and Midnight and Apollo, does some nice work here to cover, rather than compound, the story’s misgivings.
Telling the story between interacting characters is one thing but his interior renditions are truly exquisite. I could spend a lot of time just staring at the effort that has gone into depicting an electoral office, Selina’s base and the eye-popping artistic haven we meet James in.
His establishing shots for exteriors are near-cinematic too, but in a less over-the-top way than Brian Hitch is renowned for. His sequential movement from panel to panel is so well crafted that I wonder why we don’t see more of his work regularly.
John Kalisz’s color job deserves just as much applause and recognition. He’s thrown himself into a world of high-class auctions, grimy back alleys, mayoral campaigns and art appreciation while still giving characters ample attention and distinction. Where the characters feel they inhabit a real-world connection can be strongly attributed to Kalisz eye and choices as a colorist.